It’s an odd one.
A few months ago, a friend told me about a priest, a young man with a tattoo of a crucifix and a crucifix tattoo on his shoulder.
I’d never heard of him.
He seemed ordinary, just a normal, normal man.
He wore a crucifix on his right shoulder, a cross on his left, and a cross tattooed on his back.
But when I saw him, he had a priestly name on his forehead.
He was a priest with a name that he hadn’t told me.
His name was John Smith, and he was the leader of the church in a town called Wilkes-Barre.
As a priest in the small church, he was often asked what his name was.
“The Lord is my shepherd,” he’d say, “and I shall not want.”
But he’d never been a priest himself, so when he told me his name, I was perplexed.
What kind of name was that?
He said that his name might be John Smith because of the Bible.
What, exactly, does the Bible say about names?
The Bible tells us about names, it tells us what kind of names God gives us, it even tells us why we should choose a name.
But what does it say about a name, anyway?
Why are we so curious about a man’s name?
What about the name of the first man to build the pyramids?
What happened to those first men’s names?
I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot lately.
And now I’m starting to get an answer.
One day in February, as I was sitting in my car in my hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I looked at the list of the names of the people I knew in my town.
I looked up John Smith’s name.
I couldn’t believe it.
I was sure he had never been one of those names.
He had never even met me.
He hadn’t even seen me.
And I’m a priest.
How could he be a priest?
I began to realize that for most people, a name is a very important thing.
A name is something that says something about the person who’s giving you the service.
But for John Smith—the name of a very young man—that meaning was completely lost.
What did he have to do with my life?
I don’t even know why I bothered asking him.
But as I started to dig deeper, I realized that I had no idea.
My name is John Smith.
What does it mean?
And how do we learn to be a better person?
I’m not a very religious person. I don